Growing the Internet Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)

Abidjan Holds a Successful AfPIF 2017

Abidjan became the third West African city to hold the annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF), attracting top African and global players in the Internet ecosystem.

This year’s forum attracted 227 participants working in IXPs, ISPs, governments, content carriers, network providers, hardware providers, and software service providers among others. The meeting tool, which allows participants to discuss ways to exchange content, had 276 registered users who scheduled 170 meetings. Twenty networks introduced themselves during “Peering Introductions” session, held every day. This year there were 23 sponsors: Seacom, Liquid Telecom, Angonix, Angola Cables, De Cix, Linx, Adva, Afrinic, Akamai, Dolphin, Facebook, Flexoptix, France IX, Google,, Main One, Netflix, Netnod, Yahoo, Medalion, MTN, Teraco, and ARTCI.

Getting more statistics

Research conducted by PCH reinforced the fact that most peering agreements have no formal agreement. The study done in 2016 found that 99 per cent of peering agreements in 148 countries were through a handshake. The study asked questions such as: are there formal agreements, is the peering arrangement symmetrical, is the content is IPv6 or IPv4, and what are the laws governing the agreement. Out of the 1,935,822 agreements, 49 percent comprised of matching peers, meaning it was easy to tell if both parties understood the peering arrangement well.

Russia had the highest IPv6 traffic, followed by Ukraine and the United States. Russia also had the highest domestic agreements with 57%, Britain had 33%, while Germany had 17%.

The Africa IXP Association (Af-IX) has also been collecting data, in order to enrich conversations around the level of content exchanged locally through the IXPs and the amount of money being saved; currently, the region is exchanging 234 Gbps locally. Research conducted in 2016 showed that the number of IXPs has risen to 38; JINX in South Africa is the oldest, set up in 1996, while Djibouti, Togo, and Madagascar are the latest.

The diversity of peers has improved over time; more IXPs have attracted content carriers, ISPs, government services, mobile networks, and private corporations. Ten IXPs are hosting at carrier neutral data centers with power back up, biometric, and fire suppression equipment in place.

Challenges of setting up IXPs

West and Central African countries have the lowest number of IXPs, because of a combination of challenges. Lack of local content was cited as the main reasons that local operators don’t peer at the exchange. The setup of Google Cache and root server copies has been identified as one of the ways to attract more peers to an IXP.

Cross border interconnection for IXPs to share content remains a challenge; for instance, Kinsasha and Brazaville are cities separated by a river and have not connected because of regulatory issues and lack of high content at the two IXPs. Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria are also exploring ways to exchange regionally relevant content more easily.

Governance structure, dedicated staff, availability of carrier neutral facilities with power back up, growth of local digital services, and growth in government online services has been identified as some of the way to make the IXP more attractive to local players.

Growing the Internet Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)

AfPIF Day Two: Identifying Challenges and Opportunities

AfPIF Day Two Summary

The second day at the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) is dedicated to plenary presentations and discussions between the technical community, private sector, and government representatives.

The discussions aim to foster understanding of the landscape the various players operate in, the challenges faced, opportunities and ways to create synergies that guarantee increased connectivity, and exchange of content within the region.

The first session of the day was the formal opening ceremony, with Yves Miezan Ezo, representative of the Conseiller Technique du Ministre de la Communicatiln, de l’Economie Numerique et de la Poste de la république de Cote d’Ivoire, Caliste Claude M’Bayia, representative of l’ARTCI, and Moctar Yadaly, head of Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission (AUC).

In his speech, Dawit Bekele, Head of the Internet Society Africa Bureau, welcomed participants to the 8th AfPIF session, noting that great strides have been made in Africa’s technology landscape, and it will get better.

The first AfPIF session was held in 2010 by the Internet Society out of the realization that too much African Internet traffic was exchanged outside the continent, and the region could save costs by exchanging the content locally.

Bekele noted that:

  • For the last decade Interconnection was the biggest focus of our activities in Africa. Since we launched the first AFPIF, we not only organized 8 such events but also had a high number of capacity building activities to increase local and regional peering in Africa. In particular, we partnered with the African Union to implement the first phases of the AXIS project which helped build the technical and organizational capacity for the development of IXPs in 30 countries around Africa.
  • 2017 is an important year for Internet Society since we are celebrating our 25th anniversary.  In 1992, a small group of Internet pioneers including Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, established the Internet Society with the vision to bring the Internet to everyone. That goal might not be reached yet but I am sure that you agree with me that we have gone a long way towards that goal. 25 years ago there was no African country that had Internet access. Today all African countries have Internet access. Internet penetration is about 28% and the growth has been considerable in the last decade.

It is also going to be a new direction for the organization of future AfPIF events; the African bureau has decided to hand over AfPIF to the African IXP community. For the last 8 years, AfPIF has become a very sustainable event in terms of participation and funding, and Bekele believes it is time to transition it to the Association of African IXPs (AfIX). The Internet Society will still continue supporting the AfIX in organizing the annual event.

The Internet Society will continue with its engagement in Africa, on issues including:

  • Cyber security
  • Personal data protection
  • Internet Shutdowns
  • Remote areas
  • Empowering Africans to sue the full potential of increasing Internet access

Keynote Speech

Funke Opeke, CEO of Main One, one of the largest submarine cable operators in Nigeria, delivered the keynote speech. Her presentation explored the possibility of achieving the exchange of 80 per cent of content locally in Africa by 2020.

Currently, only 20 per cent of the content is exchanged locally in Nigeria, with 80 per cent of the people accessing the content via mobile. The Nigerian IXP is currently exchanging 31.5 Gbps with most of the capacity exchanged in Lagos.

Opeke was optimistic that measured regulatory intervention, increased attractiveness to regional interconnection, mobile networks exchanging content locally, sustained economic growth, and ease of doing business will lead to increased local content sharing.

Content Distribution Challenges

Netflix, CloudFlare, Facebook, and Rwanda IXP were on the last panel of the day, discussing content distribution challenges and opportunities in Africa. Netflix provides video on demand services across 190 countries and is seeking to increase its coverage in Africa. Its preferred way of sharing content is putting servers on ISP networks in various countries. From there the user can be redirected to the nearest servers.

For Netflix, Cloudflare, and Facebook, South Africa is the first country in Africa that they set up, given the advanced tech ecosystem, high traffic, and the ease with which various players share local content. The CDNs are exploring ways to set up cache in other countries, but peering and general sharing of services has to be established in order to raise the number of users accessing the service. For instance, more networks would access a cache at an IXP and more people compared to sitting at one ISP in a country.

The ensuing discussions proved that AfPIF members need to continue engaging with regulators and educating them on some of the issues in order to make proper and progressive policy decisions.

Unable to attend AfPIF 2017? Please join us via webcast!

See the complete list of speakers and read more about the event.

Celebrate the Internet Society’s 25th anniversary and join us to help #ShapeTomorrow.

Events Growing the Internet

AfPIF 2017 Kicks Off In Abidjan

The annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) kicked off at the Azalai Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The first day is known as “Peering Coordinators Day” where peering managers from various networks, operators, and policy makers meet and deliberate on the various ways to exchange content locally, lower the cost of connectivity, and increase the number of internet users in the region. In the course of the three days, participants get a chance to discuss, exchange ideas, and agree to exchange content, known as peering. Most peering agreements are through the handshake and AfPIF encourages participants to take advantage of the various social events and share contacts. There is a session at the beginning and end of every day, where participant share their AS numbers, peering policy, and contacts, allowing those willing to interconnect to reach out. The first session explored the general data and interconnection landscape; Telegeography presented the latest statistics, which is derived from its annual survey. Statistics show that the growth of submarine cables has led to growth in Internet bandwidth and local content. Five years ago, International transit was growing at 40 per cent, but this year, the growth is at 30 per cent, owing to the increase in the rising local content exchange. The cost of IP transit continues to fall, currently at $9 per Mbps. The cost is an average of the highest and lowest cost, usually varying between local and and international transit providers. The cost of STM-4 was pegged at $20,000 between London and Nairobi, London and Lagos is $15,000, while London and Johannesburg is the lowest at $8,000. Intra-Africa capacity continues to grow but most of the traffic is still exchanged in Europe. Growth in data center and cloud services is expected to leade to increased traffic exchange within the continent. Telegeography projects that by 2021, Africa will have 541 million 3G subscribers, compared to 471 million subscribers registered in 2016. LTE subscribers are expected to reach 201 million by 2021 compared to 37 million registered last year. Low Cost Connectivity The main theme at AfPIF revolves around lowering connectivity costs; Adva Technologies presented on the various ways they are facilitating low cost mobile bandwidth, especially in less densely populated areas. In Africa, the majority of people access the internet through mobile phones, and traditional base station construction is considered expensive to put up in areas with sparse population. Adva, together with the Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP) are working on Voyager – an open optical solution that will lower the cost of rolling out, supporting, and maintaining infrastructure. Voyager will provide capabilities to monitor and locate network faults in real time, allowing the network to be more resilient. Google achieves 80% local traffic exchange In the last eight years, Google has supported AfPIF in the quest to increase the level of local traffic exchange. This year, Google announced that it has achieved 80 per cent local traffic exchange in Sub Saharan Africa, and is hoping to reach 100 per cent by 2020. Apart from Supporting AfPIF, Google has provided its global cache to networks in the region – provided they have achieved a certain traffic threshold or are sharing with other networks in the country. Most countries in Africa have a cache, in most cases more than one per country. Over time, Google has noted that networks do not like to share the cache, mainly because it is used as competitive edge within the country. While monopoly is not encouraged, Google has found a way to make networks share: a virtual cache. The virtual cache will allow many peers to connect, making sharing easy, and make it easier to set up regional hubs. Google has hubs in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. The virtual cache is currently under tests in two locations in Africa. Internet Measurement and Statistics The last panel of the day was on Internet measurement and statistics. Ripe NCC presented on the 275 Atlas probes deployed in 36 African countries – the latest was deployed in Burkina Faso last week. Ripe Atlas probes are used for network operations, monitoring, measurement, and troubleshooting. The probes show traffic paths, not bandwidth. Globally, Ripe NCC has deployed 10,000 probes in data centers and IXPs. The Internet Society and Afrinic have supported the Atlas probe project, and the data provided has allowed other researchers to analyze the data. Afrinic, in collaboration with LACNIC, the University of Cambridge, and Queen Mary University, have an ongoing project: analyzing latency clusters using Atlas probes and speedchecker. The research used 229 Atlas probes in 36 countries and 850 speedchecker probes in 52 African countries. The study found that mean in-country latency is Africa was at 78ms, LACNIC region was at 79ms, and North America was at 45ms, while Europe was at 30ms. The research found that traffic within Africa was hopping to European hubs before returning to the region. In some cases it had four hops, which increases the latencies. Seacom, Liquid, MTN, Telkom SA and France Telecom (Orange) are the largest transit providers in the region. Unable to attend AfPIF 2017? Please join us via webcast! See the complete list of speakers and read more about the event.


Thirteen Fellows to Attend AfPIF 2017

The Internet Society will support thirteen fellows to attend the 8th African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF), scheduled for 22 – 24 August, 2017 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

The AfPIF fellowship program is designed to offer opportunities for qualified applicants to attend the event. The fellows come from: Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana, Gambia, Mauritius, Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Togo, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Lesotho, and Sudan. The annual event brings together governments, policy makers, technical experts and business leaders to discuss African Internet infrastructure challenges, including capacity, regional and national Internet Exchange Point (IXP) development, local content development, and connectivity.

“The AfPIF Fellowship is an important program that gives the opportunity to many to participate in the Forum and gain insights on how Africa can maximize opportunities for increased interconnection and peering.  I would like to thank our sponsors and the Fellowship Committee who make this happen every year,” said Dawit Bekele, Africa Regional Bureau Director for the Internet Society.

The fellows will have a chance to:

  • Share experiences on ways to improve running and administering of a new or existing IXP
  • Use the business opportunity to meet potential IXP members 
  • Promote public awareness and evangelism of IXPs and peering in general at the national and regional level
  • Advance and influence national/regional policies on peering and cross-border Internet interconnection
  • Provide a face-to-face networking opportunity for peers and experts

The 2017 AfPIF Fellows are:

  • Abdulie Sowe (Gambia), Administrator, Serekunda Internet Exchange Point (SIXP)
  • Alassane G. Blaise DIAGNE (Senegal), Director General, State Information Technology Agency (ADIE)
  • Alkhansa Mohamed (Sudan), Quantum for Advance Business
  • Cedrick Adrien MBEYET (Mauritius), System Engineer, AFRINIC
  • Damnam Kanlanfei Bagolibe (Togo), TGIX
  • Emmanuel Kwarteng (Ghana), GIX
  • Frank Habicht (Tanzania), TISPA
  • Ghislain Nkeramugaba (Rwanda), RICTA/RINEX
  • Islam Abou El Ata (Morocco), CAS-IX
  • Kiemde Wênden tôe fâa (Burkina Faso), Burkina Faso Internet EXchange Point (BFIX)
  • Kyle Spencer (Uganda), Uganda Internet eXchange Point
  • Nico Tshintu Bakajika (Democratic Republic of Congo), ISPA-DRC/KINIX
  • Tumelo Mosito (Lesotho), IT operations manager, Econet Lesotho

Read more about AfPIF-2017 fellows, register for AfPIF, or view the Livestream.

Building Trust Growing the Internet

Why ALL African Internet and Data operators should be attending AfPIF-2017

Top African and international Internet companies are supporting this year’s Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF), set for August 22-24 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Netflix, Facebook, Google, Akamai, DE CIX, LINX, YAHOO, Netnod and FranceIX are among the global players supporting AfPIF while Liquid Telecom, Seacom, Angola Cables, Angonix, AFRINIC, and MainOne are the leading supporters from Africa.

In the last seven years, AfPIF has established itself as the most important Internet event with respect to peering and interconnection in Africa and any operator that is looking at growing their local, regional and global interconnection is best served at AfPIF.

For who should attend please see AfPIF-2017 website.

Why should you attend AfPIF-2017?

Global CDN’s that generate at least 40% of all Internet consumer traffic in Africa will be attending AfPIF in Abidjan, which makes it the largest AfPIF by CDN ratio ever. The CDNs are: Google, Akamai, Yahoo, Netflix, Facebook amongst others.

Major European IXPs will be represented: in the last seven years of AfPIF, it has been proven that networks from emerging markets can offload at least 40% of their International transit traffic at large IXPs in Europe. Some of the major European IXPs that will be represented in Abidjan are: AMS IX, LINX, DE CIX, France IX and Netnod.

“LINX has been proud to have supported AfPIF for the last five years. Seven main cable routes from Africa land in the UK and today over 40 African networks peer at LINX. Events like AfPIF are vital in enabling us to meet with network providers in the region who are looking to connect to our exchange in London. We are delighted to be in Abidjan in Côte D’Ivoire this year to continue to establish and build on these important relationships,” said the LINX marketing team.

The technical community has committed to promoting of 80% local exchange of content by 2020. AfPIF provides a platform to advance this vision by focusing on the policy, technical and business aspects of interconnection in Africa.

African Networks will be represented: Seacom, Main One, Liquid, and Angola Cables will lead a list of Africa’s major terrestrial and submarine Cable operators that will be present and giving updates.

Africa has also witnessed growth in data center infrastructure, which has boosted the growth of local content hosting. The growth of data centers is projected to be a major driver of 80% local content hosting.

Interested in hosting in Africa? Come and interact with the teams from Teraco and amongst others.

This year, AfPIF has the attention of optical vendors who are innovating solutions that lead to lower interconnection costs. Adva and Flexoptix teams will be on site showcase how they impact the peering and interconnection ecosystem.

During the meeting, networks present will get a chance to introduce themselves to all the attendees during the “peering personals” a precursor to the peering bilateral meetings sessions.

It starts with a handshake

We have the meeting tool that makes it possible for those attending to organize meetings with potential network representatives attending AfPIF. Studies shows that many of peering and interconnection agreements are made during peering events like AfPIF and hence the need. Remember meetings are booked in advance – you want to make sure that you secure your meeting opportunity early.

This video provides a perfect overview of why AfPIF and peering matters to networks.

Global and regional networks are here to share, meet and do business, register and secure your meeting!

Growing the Internet Technology

Save the date: AfPIF-2017 from 22 – 24 August 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

–Save the Date–
AfPIF-2017 from 22 – 24 August 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Join us for 3 days of sharing, learning and networking at the 8th African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF)
An open and inclusive forum, AfPIF focuses on developing Internet interconnection and traffic exchange opportunities by bringing together key players – infrastructure providers, Internet service providers (ISPs), Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), content producers and providers, data center operators, policy-makers and regulators, to advance the peering ecosystem in Africa.
Why should you attend AfPIF-2017? Have a look through AfPIF-2016 website that contains the meeting report, briefs of presentations, emerging discussions, speakers and sponsors at:

More information about the event will be shared in the coming weeks.
Make sure you do not miss this premier peering event in Africa!